Screw 'em

I had my lawyer in Mississippi start foreclosure on my father’s house, but he chickened out after hearing from the buyer’s attorney in North Carolina that this might be in violation of her most recent bankruptcy agreement. When he told me of his decision, I magnanimously offered to pay his expenses. When he sent me a bill for $474.24, I hit the roof and wrote him the following:

"I called my lawyer in North Carolina. I didn't get to speak to him, but then I’ve never gotten to speak to him. His legal assistant said there was no reason for you to discontinue the bankruptcy. I thought about this, and wondered if your fears of going to jail were reasonable. It seemed to me that if anyone went to jail, it would be the bankruptcy attorney who advised you to proceed.

"Today, your bill came, and I was flabbergasted that you would drop my case in midstream to cover your ass in the event of an unlikely worst-case scenario, and then not just seek to cover your expenses but to make a generous profit for 0.00 hours worked (that’s what your bill said). It’s beyond me. You make money. Sheila ____’s lawyers makes money. My lawyer in North Carolina makes money. The judge makes money. The bankruptcy trustee makes money. All the support people who work for the lawyers and the courts and the bankruptcy trustees make money. Yet, I get screwed—regularly.

"Why regularly? Because courts and lawyers are disinclined to ever settle anything for keeps. After thirteen years of late mortgage payments, cancelled insurance policies, delinquent taxes, mean-spirited letters, foreclosures, and bankruptcies; I would think that the court would conclude that Sheila ____ is not, never has been, and probably never will be, a person who is inclined to pay her debts; but, no, they said that she only had to be no more than 30 days in arrears for six months, and, as long as she did that, I would be back to square one at the end of six months. It seemed like a pretty raw deal to me, but my lawyer—speaking through his assistant, of course—said it was the best I could get.

"Then, she was 30 days in arrears, repeatedly, but even that wasn’t enough. I still have to pay more lawyers and judges, yet most of them won’t speak to me. they won’t answer my letters, they won’t respond to my e-mails, and when they do write, they don’t give me the courtesy of addressing me as Dear Lowell or Dear Mr. Thomas, or even of signing their names because, truth be known, they’re not going to make a lot of money off my little problems, so they don’t see the need to show respect, or to keep me abreast of what they’re doing, or to act in a timely manner. I pay them what is to me a lot of money, yet I am repeatedly treated badly by the minions of a system that is created first, last, and always to make money, money, and more money for itself by insuring that justice is not served."

He wrote back offering to settle for his newspaper publication fee, but I was so mad that I had concluded it to be my ethical duty to stiff him and any other overcharging bastard who puts a title in front of his name and a line of letters separated by periods after it. For instance, my most recent orthopedist bill arrived today. She charged $784.50 for three injections plus $495.00 for administering them.

These were not office visits. These were occasions when I was squeezed in between office visits. She would run in, stick the needle in my knee, pull it out, hand it to an assistant, and leave. We’re talking under a minute, and for that she charged $165 a pop. A person working for minimum wage earns only a little more in a week. A journeyman carpenter or plumber makes it in two days, but his knees, back, and wrists are shot before he’s sixty. The inequities of recompense in our country are so outrageous that I don’t understand why there isn’t a revolution. How much worse do things have to get?